The world looks at Christianity, and they can't figure it out. They say, "Why, before God could forgive people, would He require the death of His Son? That is so extreme! Why wouldn't He simply, benevolently, forgive people's sin? If I did something against you, you would just forgive me. Why can't God do that?"
But that kind of questioning betrays a sort of ignorance that is two-fold. One is of how heinous our sin is, and the other is of how great and holy our God is.
Nobody speaks of sin anymore. In fact, sin has almost disappeared from the American vocabulary. We speak of "problems" or "hangups" or "issues." It's called a "sickness" or it's called someone else's fault. But the Bible says very plainly that if we say we have no sin, we are liars. (1 John 1:8).
How serious is it? Paul said, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). We sin because it's our nature. "Through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). And we sin by choice. Every day we commit individual acts that are an affront to God.
They are an affront because God is absolutely holy. You see, holy God is wholly incompatible with sin and unrighteousness. "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness" (Habakkuk 1:13). "Your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you" (Isaiah 59:2).
Perfect, holy God cannot coexist with sinful man. And because of that, we're separated, we're lost. So one of two things must happen. Either holy God must destroy unholiness, or holy God must declare that which is unholy, holy.
And that takes us to the cross. Jesus lived the perfect life that we could never live, and then took all our sins on Himself. So effectively God said, "I'll take the rap. I'll take all of your wickedness and evil and I'll put it on Myself so that when I die on the cross, it's finished, once and for all."
The cross is the only place that God will meet with mankind. The cross is the only place where both God's mercy and God's justice could meet. How can God be a God of love and a God of justice at the same time? How can holy, perfect God meet with sinful, rebellious man? Only at the cross. He came, He took our punishment, and then He declared you and me righteous because of it.
Extreme? Yes! But what a deal that is! It's the deal of a lifetime!
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